One of the most painful experiences is being kicked out of a group. Relationships matter. We need the encouragement of others. We thrive on shared visions, values, experiences, and simple things like food and fun. However, it is not unusual for followers of Jesus to face the pain of separation or dislocation. It happened to a blind man once.
Jesus had just healed the man and it triggered an awkward moment—two worlds collided. The man was an odd part of the Jewish religious establishment, a synagogue member along with his parents. The system had rules and standards—quite comfortable ones if you accepted them. Sabbath was a day for rest and worship. To break that law was a sin. Hundreds of things were on the sin-list, including healing someone. Sinners could not possibly be in good standing with God, let alone speak and act with His authority. The religious leaders confidently taught Scripture and their opinions of what God wanted. Most people nodded in agreement. That included the blind man, who had been taught that his congenital blindness was damning evidence of sin in him or his parents.
Even that damned condition supported an oddly comfortable, ordered life—until Jesus passed by. Jesus ignored the restrictive Sabbath rule about not healing people. He dismissed the lie that blindness signaled sin. He shrugged off religious indignation. His world—or rather, kingdom—was different.
The miracle placed the family in a predicament. The blind man’s parents shied away from admitting their knowledge about the miracle because they knew they would be kicked out of the synagogue. His relational world was woven into the religious order too. But the man could never escape the truth of his healing. All the objections of the religious leaders were stupidly irrelevant to him; he knew one thing, “I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25).
Later, they answered and said to him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they put him out. Jesus heard that they had put him out; and finding him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “And who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshipped Him. (John 9:34-38)
It happens in a thousand ways. The reality of God calls us away from the uncomfortable comforts of our established worlds. Our networks of relationships are stickiest. We rarely choose to leave; but tight communities react to members who start to think and act differently. The circle tightens, the embraces exclude us, and backs are turned. Dislocation hurts.
Always, Jesus provides a new family. It’s not united by human rules and rulers but by focus on Him. One thing begins the relationship: belief in Jesus as the Son of Man, with all that implies. Ideally, every newcomer will continue relating to their old network, explaining the changes, sharing the freedom and joy, attracting others to the world of Jesus. Sadly, rejection is common. But the new life in a new family is worth it.